Auditors refer suspicious transactions to corruption unit
Football boss Bruce Blake has promised full cooperation with any investigation into the Cayman Islands Football Association’s finances after being confirmed as acting leader of the organization.
The lawyer won another four-year term on Saturday, less than 24 hours after it emerged that the association was facing the prospect of an inquiry from the Anti-Corruption Commission.
Challenger Renard Moxam was not permitted to run after his nomination for election was judged to be defective. No poll was deemed necessary at CIFA’s annual general meeting at the Marriott resort, and Mr. Blake will remain as first vice president, a role that carries the responsibility of acting president following the arrest of Jeffrey Webb in Switzerland in May.
The Anti-Corruption Commission stated on Friday that it was looking into a matter involving the football association. Auditors confirmed they had raised concerns about suspicious transactions.
“There are two or three points they [the auditors] have highlighted. We are meeting on Monday afternoon to discuss as an executive,” Mr. Blake acknowledged.
“Whatever the auditor, the police or the commission need us to provide, we will provide.”
The association’s accounts have yet to be signed off by auditors and were not ready to be presented to members at the meeting Saturday. Mr. Blake said a special congress would be called to present the accounts once the outstanding issues were dealt with.
Philip Rankin, of Rankin Berkower, certified public accountants, said certain transactions had raised red flags during his firm’s audit of the association’s accounts. He confirmed that the suspicious transactions had been referred to the Anti-Corruption Commission for review.
Commission secretariat manager Deborah Bodden released a brief statement Friday evening, stating, “The Anti-Corruption Commission can confirm that a matter involving the Cayman Islands Football Association has been brought to the Commission’s attention. This matter is being reviewed.”
In the run-up to Saturday’s meeting, government announced it was pulling its funding from the football association amid concerns over how the election process was being handled.
The decision to exclude Mr. Moxam and Sharon Roulstone, who had both signaled their intent to run for leadership roles, drew criticism from Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden, who called on CIFA to hold “free and fair elections.”
The association responded that it had a clear process in its constitution, and that Mr. Moxam and Ms. Roulstone had failed to secure the minimum support required to run.
As a result, Mr. Blake and Mark Campbell reassumed their roles of first vice president and assistant general secretary, uncontested, on Saturday.
On Sunday, Minister Bodden said, “I’m surprised in light of these revelations that the executive didn’t postpone the annual general meeting, stand down and allow new, free and clear elections in the public interest.”
Speaking after the meeting on Saturday, Mr. Blake said, “I’m planning to sit down with government and see how we can resolve this issue. It has to be about taking football forward. We are both stakeholders in the development of our kids.”
Armando Ebanks, a 26-year veteran of Cayman’s financial industry, assumed the role of treasurer of the organization, previously held by Canover Watson, who is now facing criminal charges in an unrelated corruption probe.
Mr. Ebanks acknowledged he was coming to the role at a time when football locally and internationally was facing increased scrutiny over financial management.
He said in previous years CIFA’s accounts had been vetted and approved by independent auditors. But he said he would review polices on financial reporting and procurement and ensure the association is open and transparent about how it spends its money.
Mr. Ebanks insisted the association would provide “full cooperation” to any investigation of its finances. He added, “I’ve been involved in football as a player and as a coach and I’m hoping my experience and my financial background will add value at the executive level.”
Mr. Moxam, currently director of Cayman’s national football teams, attended Saturday’s meeting despite having been blocked from running for the first vice president’s role. He said he and Ms. Roulstone were still considering their next move.
“A lot of what was said at the meeting confirmed the need for change and a fresh approach to the game, in my view,” he added.
“The fact that the accounts have not been approved and that some transactions have been referred to the Anti-Corruption Commission should be a sign that something needs to change,” he said.
Despite the controversy over Mr. Moxam’s thwarted attempt to run for election, government pulling its funding, and the prospect of an anti-corruption investigation, there appeared to be little opposition among the clubs on Saturday to the current leadership remaining in place.
Ernie “Gillie” Seymour, technical director of Athletic Sports Club, said the membership could not complain about the election process.
“It is down to the clubs. The CIFA executive does not select themselves. There is a voting process, the clubs know the voting process. It is nothing new,” he said.